Each search we I has an obvious beginning which often shapes how the search will develop. In the case of Merv’s medals, it was a Police Constable who dropped into Watsonia RSL, asking for me. His comment according to Jan the receptionist on duty at the time was “We’ve got these medals, we can’t find the owner. I was told you have a bloke called Bill who is pretty good at returning medals”.
And so with those cryptic words the search began.
At this point may I say the medals were in the Police lost property office for 12 months. Therefore, I should have known that if the Police with all their resources couldn’t find the owner or his next of kin, I was in for, as Sherlock Holmes would have it, a four pipe problem. For me it was a lot of cups of coffee and more than the average number of dead ends. How true these words have proved to be.
When I eventually contacted Merv’s daughter-in-Law her response was: “No”. She remained adamant after she asked if I also had a swimming medal among Merv’s medals and I had to admit I didn’t. Her next response was, “Well we have all his medals, there here somewhere all in a little blue box, in fact I’ll look for it now”. So I left my phone number and I must admit at the time I actually looked again at the medals to make sure I had not made a mistake somewhere along the line.
About 30 minutes later I got a phone call “The medals aren’t in the box”. Then followed a series of “yes” and “nos” as together we tried to work out how the medals came into the possession of the Police. But perhaps of even more interest was how I found the family as Merv had passed away in 2003.
The Police and the loss of the medals was the easiest to explain, a grandson borrowed them to wear on ANZAC Day and lost them at the football. What is important is that the medals are ‘home’ and next week they will be going to Spud (A1 Service Medals- a free plug) who will mount them.
Also with the medals went a few words of caution and the need for care, particularly by young men at football matches. Many thanks to a young Victorian Police who took the effort to see these medals restored to the family.
Next week Merv’ son and I will start the paperwork so that Merv’s grave, the grave of a Japanese POW, can be commemorated.
The returned medal tally is now 1466.